Gameplay Research: Competition

Gameplay Research

I will be looking into what makes people competitive and what makes competition fun in order to make my game gripping and fun.

Definition (Cambridge Dictionary)

A situation in which someone is trying to win something or be more successful than someone else.

An organised event in which people try to win a prize by being the best, fastest, etc.

An activity done by a number of people or organisations, each of which is trying to do better than all of the others.

Competition is also a situation in which the various organisms living in the same area try to compete for a limited supply of food, water, space, etc.


Championship, clash, event, fight, game, match, meeting, race, rivalry, sport, struggle, tournament, trial, antagonism, bout, candidacy, contention, controversy, counteraction, emulation, encounter, engagement, jungle, matchup, opposition, puzzle, quiz, racing, run, strife, striving, tilt, tug-of-war, warfare, athletic event, concourse, do or die, dog eat dog, go for it, go for the gold, horse race, one on one, one-upping, pairing off, rat race.

Why are people competitive?

My first opinion on this is people are competitive because it’s programmed into us on a basic level of consciousness, we have a in built need to compete for food and resources, dating all the way back to the birth of humanity.  More simple reasons would be for glory, people that compete for attention and wealth in order to keep themselves happy. Finally some people compete just because it’s fun, they might like the peril of losing and the fun of winning.

After looking into it a bit I’ve learned there are varying types of competitiveness, some of this is quotes from a site.

“Good competitiveness is the drive to accomplish a goal, to bring out the best in individuals, indeed help them understand  themselves.”

“Bad competitiveness is winning at any cost: it sneers at the outmodish negativity of the old aphorism “It’s not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game.”  Losing is for wimps and failures. It is the self-aggrandising, other-denigrating factor associated with competition that is bad, but the self – improvement that is good.”

Competitiveness can be altered by how ambitious a person is, it can drive them to compete for better chances and resources. For example, a more ambitious person on a course at University might feel the need to compete for more attention from a tutor or even feel like they need their work to be better than their class mates. The youngest child in a family might also be very competitive due to them being the smallest or weakest  child when younger. They may feel the need to compete to be noticed while their older siblings may be achieving their ambitions, for example, if the youngest child is still in their teens they may feel the need to fight for attention while their oldest sibling is graduating school.

People can also feel the need to compete when the opposite sex is involved, one may want to impress someone or avoid being shamed in front of them. This probably stems from when we would need to compete for a mate in the olden days.

What makes competition fun?

When looking at the article above, you’d think that competition may be a stressful situation where nothing is easy and everything requires you to fight constantly to be noticed. However competition can be enjoyable for some, I myself enjoy a friendly competition and have a good time whether I win or lose.

In a game there is no actual real world peril, while your character may die or even lose a rank, there is nothing permanent about it so it shouldn’t get anyone down. There are people that get enraged when they lose though.

Schools like competition because it encourages co-operation, co-ordination, creativity and concentration, basically if the competition is challenging enough it can force kids to think outside the box. However it can place unwanted pressure or stress on the child, while this can be seen as a bad thing by parents, others think that this can help the child grow into a better person who’s prepared for adulthood.

The opinion of one of my class mates is that winning is the enjoyable part of competition, that it’s satisfying, “it’s all about achieving your goal and not about being better than everyone else.” Another said that it’s all about finding new ways to progress and growing as a person, thinking outside the box so to speak.

A contrasting opinion from another student states that the fun part of competition is beating everyone and gaining “bragging rights”, sort of testing yourself against others to see how well you can do.

Making a Healthy Competition

Making a healthy competition is all about having someone thinking positively about the whole experience, whether they win or lose you want them to enjoy themselves and not feel bad about losing. I think that a lot of games have trouble in this aspect as these days most competitive games are massive online multiplayers with some kind of ranking system. This ranking system adds pressure onto the player because you want to get to as high a level as possible but if you lose a game you get less points, some games even go as far as taking ranks away from you and putting you lower on a leader board.

Games like Overwatch have two different systems for this, they have levels which don’t really do much other than show how much you play this game and offer you a loot box after every level up, the loot boxes offer purely cosmetic items for your characters. This can not be lowered by losing a match, you will merely get less experience points. Or they have the Ranking system which is only activated when you play on the competitive mode, this has you compete with thousands of other players online for a higher spot on the worldwide leader board, again this offers you points which can be spent on exclusive cosmetic items like a golden gun. By losing matches you can lose ranks and be placed lower on the leader board, you can also lose ranks by simply not playing.

Other games like Call of Duty have a similar levelling system but also offer new weapons or equipment to those at higher levels. While this system doesn’t penalise you for losing, it rewards you more for winning, a lower level person will have a starting weapon which won’t have as good stats as the higher level counterpart.

Call of Duty After Action Report

Ranking systems altogether can encourage unhealthy competition or a “salty” attitude. (Salty means being bitter or upset after losing a game). I think a possible way of avoiding this can be to lose the levelling system altogether and create a game that will focus purely on trying to have fun and a friendly competition with your friends. However taking away the reward system within a game can take away the satisfaction of gaining new items to kit out your character in a game.

I will be going for an old arcade feel to my game so I might not even need any kind of reward or levelling system, they were first introduced in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare in 2007, my style of choice is much older than that. Obviously people had tonnes of fun before it was invented so I won’t actually need something like that.

Arcade Games Scoring

Arcade games had a very simple method of scoring, if the game was single player or co-op then there would be a leader board after the game finished, you would be able to write your initials on the screen next to your name and it would usually show how many enemies you destroyed or how long you lasted. If the game was versus then there would be either a certain amount of rounds where the person who won the most rounds would win the overall game. Or there would be a score to reach where there would be unlimited rounds until one person reached that score, the score for this can be any number but the amount of rounds in the previous example would have to be and odd number so the players don’t get the same score at the end, unless that’s what you’re going for.



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